Rapper YNW Melly’s murder trial ends in a mistrial after jurors deadlock; possible retrial

Fort Lauderdale, Florida. A deadlocked jury sparked a mistrial on Saturday in South Florida of rapper YNW Melly for allegedly killing two of his friends five years ago.

The 12-member panel failed to reach a unanimous verdict after three days of deliberations. The Broward County Attorney’s Office, which sought the death penalty, is likely to decide to retry the case with a new jury. A unanimous verdict is required to convict or acquit a defendant.

Broward District Judge John Murphy twice asked jurors to continue deliberating after they said they were deadlocked, but relented after they returned a third time.

Prosecutors say YNW Melly, whose legal name is Jamell Demons, shot Anthony Williams and Christopher Thomas Jr. while they were all inside the jeep. Williams and Thomas were both part of the YNW collective, known respectively as YNW Sakchaser and YNW Juvy.

Prosecutors said the shooting was part of the gang’s actions, while defense attorneys said the claim was not credible as the Demons and the victims were close friends.

The Demons, Williams, and Thomas rode in a Jeep driven by Courtland Henry, known as YNW Bortlen, after a taping session in Fort Lauderdale on October 26, 2018, according to prosecutors. They say the Demons fatally shot Williams and Thomas. Henry is charged with complicity in the case and will be tried separately.

After the murders of Williams and Thomas, prosecutors said the Demons and Henry drove the bodies to an area near the Everglades, where they shot the rear and passenger sides of Henry’s jeep from the outside to make it appear that Williams and Thomas were the victims of a drive-by shooting.

But prosecutors say ballistics tests show the pair were shot from inside the jeep.

Defense lawyers emphasized that the gun was never found. They also told jurors that YNW Melly had no apparent motive for the crime.

YNW Melly had a breakthrough in 2017 and went on to work with Kanye West on Mixed Personalities, which was released in January 2019, a month before Demon, 24, was arrested on murder charges.

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